Vietnamese official fined $22,000 for land-use violations, but gets to keep his massive villa

By Phuong Son   December 2, 2017 | 07:29 am PT
Despite parts of it being illegally constructed, Pham Sy Quy's massive hillside complex is allowed to remain intact.

Authorities in the northern province of Yen Bai have fined the family of its former environmental chief over VND507 million ($22,400) for unauthorized construction.

The family of Pham Sy Quy, former director of the province's Department of Natural Resources and Environment, was also fined VND51 million for late land-use tax payment. The family's massive villa complex, where the unauthorized construction occured, has however been allowed to remain intact.

"The punishment depends on the nature of the violation, but government regulations allow the use of just administrative fines," Chu Dinh Ngu, chief of staff of Yen Bai People's Committee, said regarding the decision. He also claimed the province has dealt with the violations "correctly" and in accordance with the Government Inspectorate's conclusion on the case.

In its report to the Government Inspectorate, Yen Bai Province also said it had taken disciplinary actions against a total of 14 individuals, including officials in Minh Tan District and Yen Bai Town's tax officials.

Quy was fired from his post as the province's environmental chief in October after the Government Inspectorate issued a report saying he is responsible for multiple violations that also involve his wife Hoang Thi Hue. He also received a warning from the Communist Party, and has been reassigned as the vice chief of staff of the provincial legislature.

Birds eye view of Pham Sy Quys massive villa complex in Yen Bai Province. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy

Bird's eye view of Pham Sy Quy's massive villa complex in Yen Bai Province. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy

The inspection was launched after media reports raised questions in June over his hillside complex that includes a villa, stilt houses, a pond and a garden in the provincial capital. The land in the picture had been designated as forest and agricultural land, which means residential use is restricted.

According to inspectors, Yen Bai Town approved Hue’s application to convert the use of the land in 2015 without specifying why it was justifiable. The decision clashed with several land management rules set by the provincial government at the time.

The town also granted Hue a license to use the land without charging her the standard fee.

Quy was deputy director and then director of the province’s environment department at the time.

Between August last year and February 2017, Hue collected fees from 14 local families who wanted to transfer the use of their land.

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